Stroke Care

To better serve our community, Onslow Memorial Hospital has made stroke care and education a top priority with the hospital and community. Since 2008, we have participated in a wide variety of community events and health fairs.  If you have any questions and/or are interested in having stroke education or screening brought to your organization or health fair, please feel free to contact our Stroke Nurse Coordinator, Penelope McCabe BSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN at 910-577-2838 or by email at

In 2020 OMH was awarded the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines - Heart Failure GOLD with Honor Roll and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll, as well as the Stroke GOLD PLUS with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll. These awards are a testament to our commitment to treating stroke patients with the highest levels of care outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The hospital also achieved The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval as a Primary Stroke Certification in June 2012 and was recertified in 2014, 2016, and 2018. We were the second hospital east of I-95 to receive this distinction.

Our passion to providing excellent stroke care and education to our patients and community will continue. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States today and the fourth leading cause of death in North Carolina. Research suggests that delays in seeking treatment for stroke symptoms limits effective treatment options and results in a greater likelihood of permanent disability or death. Onslow County is considered to be the Nation’s Stroke Belt Buckle, an area where stroke mortality is two times higher than the national average. It is important to take steps to prevent and control stroke risk factors. The health of our community affects everyone.

Why Stroke Treatment is Urgent

The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. Every second counts. The most common kind of stroke: ischemic stroke can be treated with a drug that dissolves clots blocking the blood flow. The window of opportunity to treat stroke patients with this medication is four and a half hours. Depending on where the clot is in the brain, mechanical removal may be considered for up to 24 hours after symptoms start.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke

It’s critically important to know the warning signs of stroke.  If you act quickly and seek treatment immediately, you could reduce the disabilities caused by stroke. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know experiences these signs of stroke:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness that occurs in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or difficulty understanding - may have slurred speech or confused speech
  • Sudden problems with walking; dizziness; a loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache, the cause of which is unknown
  • Difficulty swallowing

Stroke Risk Factors

It is important to understand the factors that can increase your risk for stroke.  Although some risk factors for stroke are uncontrollable, research has shown that you can take steps to prevent stroke by reducing and controlling certain risk factors. 

Lifestyle Risk Factors:

  • Poor diet and nutrition – working to improve your diet will help reduce your risk of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity – regular exercise can improve your overall health and fitness
  • Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke – smoking doubles the risk of stroke
  • Alcohol – alcohol use has been linked to increased blood pressure and risk of stroke
  • Use of illegal drugs, especially cocaine and methamphetamines

If these lifestyle risk factors are addressed, then your medical risk factors will also lessen.

Medical Risk Factors:

  • High blood pressure –  risk of stroke begins to increase at blood pressure readings higher than 115/75 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Your doctor will help you decide on a target blood pressure based on your age, whether you have diabetes and other factors.
  • High cholesterol – a total cholesterol level above 200 milligrams per deciliter
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • Circulation problems
  • Coronary artery disease

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:

  • Age – as we age our risk for stroke increases, although many young people have undiagnosed hypertension so everyone should have routine screenings
  • Gender – women experience more strokes each year than men
  • Race/Ethnicity – African Americans have twice the risk of stroke, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders also have a higher risk than Caucasians
  • Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) sometimes known as a mini-stroke

Combating North Carolina's High Stroke Rate

Click here to hear an interview with NCSA Program Coordinator Margaret Rudisill along with Jo Malfitano of Onslow Memorial Hospital, an NCSA partner hospital, and other health professionals as they discuss the incidence of stroke in North Carolina, paths to prevention and advances in treatment options.

Heart Healthy Guide

With heart disease and stroke being a major community health issue in Onslow County, we wanted to raise awareness about this deadly disease. We teamed up with the Jacksonville Daily News to create a Heart Healthy Guide to help get you on the right track. Click here to download.